Shake your ji-boo-tee?

Shake your what?  Djibouti?  You have heard of it right.  Is it the new dance craze?

A few weeks ago I had never heard of this African nation called Djibouti pronounced “ji-boo-tee”.  However in less than a 24 hour period the country came up in two very different circles of conversation.  It was a sign.  We need to learn more about this country!

Sur les bords du Lac Assal, une caravane et ses nomades viennent chercher du sel.
Lake Assal: Photo property of visitdjibouti.dj

Djibouti is located on the Red Sea and Indian Ocean giving the nation a strategic advantage for Suez canal shipping lanes providing a majority of the nation’s trade.  The region has been inhabited since 8000 BC with a current population of just under 1 million speaking primarily French and Arabic.

What is there to see in Djibouti?

  • Check out Lake Abbe with a lunar atmosphere and covered with flamingos.  Famous for filming location of first Planet of the Apes movie (in review for UNESCO heritage status)
  • Take a hike among the Goda Mountains to check out the waterfalls
  • Swim or more appropriately float in Lake Assal as the salt level is similar to the Dead Sea (in review for UNESCO heritage status)
  • Snorkel with whale sharks in the Bay of Ghoubbet
  • Soak up the Arabian culture with a visit to the sea side town of Tadjourah

 

In May 2015 The Telegraph had an article “Djibouti: Africa’s hottest new travel destination” with tourism on the rise  over 300% in the last 20 years.  However tourism remains in it’s infancy I suspect due to the cost and challenges of local transportation.  I may not put this country high on my wish list however it definitely will be added to the list for a someday wish list.

For more information check out Djibouti Office National du Tourisme and Lonely Planet “Djibouti” guide book

Seek your adventure!

 




Keep your boarding pass!

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United 154: Micronesia Island hopper!

In today’s fast pace world many people are quick to dispose of things especially completed travel documents.  Several years ago I started saving all of my boarding passes as a souvenir of the trip.  On rainy days I will pull from the storage box to replay the trip video in my mind.

While the nostalgic value of a boarding pass can be easily discounted the documentation value for miles needs serious consideration.  In the event that your flight did not get credited to your frequent flier mileage account in many instances the airline will require the boarding pass as proof of travel.  This is extremely important when flying partner airlines given it is not their typical business process and the miles earned may take several days or weeks to post to your account.

I had discovered that my flight to Romania on LOT Polish Airlines had not posted to my Singapore Kris Flyer  mileage account.   Stay with me here as I clarify this; I utilized my Singapore miles account because I would earn more miles based on the fare class that I was flying than if I utilized my United Airlines or Lufthansa Miles & More account.  So my boarding pass included my my Singapore Kris Flyer number yet the miles failed to be posted to my account.   It is usually very easy to request the credit however finding the precious boarding passes in the travel closet was a bit of a chore.  Given this was nearly 10,000 miles missing it was worth a little extra time!

Seek your adventure!

The world is waiting for you!

This week I said a tearful goodbye to one of my dearest childhood friends who was tragically killed in a car accident.  It has been an urgent reminder that life is short and we should live each day to the fullest.

My advice to you this week is simple in the words of Dalia Lama:

“Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before”. 

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This world has so much to offer us and we need to take time to explore new places.   This could be a grand adventure to a continent, country, city; or simply a visit to the city zoo, museum or theatre.  Take the opportunity to experience new places especially those in your own backyard.  The world is waiting for you…get out there!

 

Seek your adventure!

Let’s sail away

Let’s sail away
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Getting ready to board the Queen Mary 2

Let’t take this opportunity to talk about the unique travel option of cruising.  There are an endless amount of options available for cruise trips.  I have taken several cruises in my day and I have never been disappointed.   For several years on my annual flip flop trip  I took cruises that left from Florida.   I celebrated a special birthday with several close friends on the Queen Mary 2 which was absolutely divine!

 

 

 

Here are some major advantages to taking a cruise:

  • You are staying in a “floating hotel”  and you unpack your suitcase once yet you get to experience new destinations on a daily basis
  • All of your meals are included with several different dining options on the ship
  • You can truly escape technology as you go “off the grid” with no wifi or mobile phone coverage
  • While you are onboard you do not have to carry any cash or credit cards as everything is charged to your cabin number
  • Nightly live entertainment including music, theatre, lectures which are all complimentary
  • Live art auctions where you can pick up some excellent artwork at discounted prices
  • Spa services  & gym are typically available
  • Take a stroll on the boardwalk
  • Enjoy the lounge chairs and watch the world go by
Wow this is a big ship!
Queen Mary 2: Wow this is a big ship!
Twin balcony room...
Queen Mary 2: Twin balcony cabin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some things to take into consideration before you book:

  • There are usually additional fees added onto the basic cruise price including: port fees, beverages, tips,
  • Take notice of the room size, layout, configuration as the rooms can be quite small
  • For anyone concerned about getting sea sick; investigate the size of the ship, if the ship utilizes stabilizers, typical weather  for time of year will all play into the smoothness of sea

Cruising can provide high end amenities at a low cost travel option if you find the right deal!

Seek your adventure!

 

Free currency exchange

International Bank of 1girlwhotravels
International Bank of 1girlwhotravels

For anyone traveling away from home here is a quick reminder on the basics of currency exchange.    Before you go check out the exchange rate on xe.com website or download their app.

First Place:  The best exchange rate you will get is to utilize your credit card but first confirm the credit card has no foreign transaction fees before you leave home.   The Chase Sapphire Preferred  is a great choice to use while traveling.

Second Place:  The second best option is withdrawing cash from a local ATM once you arrive.  Consider the duration of your visit or take only small amounts of money to avoid having a surplus of foreign currency when it is time to return home.

 

Consolation Prize:  Unless you are desperate never purchase currency at the airport because they give you a crappy rate and usually charge an additional fee.

Don’t even ask me about traveller’s check;  we have moved on from the 1970’s folks.

Seek your adventure!

Around the world in business class on $100!

Anyone who has ever gone to dinner or shopping with me knows that I purchase everything on a credit card.  

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View from Micronesia Island Hopper flight!

I want the points!   I am obsessed with earning points so that I can travel for free. The travel industry reports that over 75% of all airline points are NOT earned from “butt in seat” flights.

Last year was my best airline points redemptions ever, which was on my Micronesia Island Hopper trip with all flights in BUSINESS CLASS from Chicago – Honolulu – Kauai – back to Honolulu – Micronesia Island Hopper UA154 – Guam – Palau – Seoul – Tokyo – Chicago. I paid under $100 in taxes; yes you read that correctly.

The magic my friends is all in the credit cards. Now we could literally spend months talking through all the intricate details of how to earn points and the best way to spend points. However there are several amazing blogs dedicated to these topics so I would suggest visiting some of them. I have attended conference to hear these bloggers speak and they all have incredible travel tales.

I want to share with you my favorite credit card for earning points currently is Chase Sapphire.

Chase Sapphire benefits:

  • Earn 2X points on dining at restaurants from fast food to fine dining*  
  • Earn 2X points on all travel from airfare and hotels to taxis and trains*
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases*
  • 1 to 1 points transfer to the following airlines British Airways Executive Club, Flying Blue AIR FRANCE KLM, Korean Air SKYPASS, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards®, United MileagePlus®, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  • 1 to 1 points transfer to the following hotels:  Hyatt Gold Passport®, IHG® Rewards Club, Marriott Rewards® and The Ritz-Carlton Rewards®.

Check out these great blogs: 

The Points Guy

Million Mile Secrets

Johnny Jet

Seek your adventure!

 

People over Profit: Fly POP

Sikhs admiring the temple
2008 visit to Amritsar:  Sikhs admiring the Golden temple

There is a new airline in town.  People Over Profit officially known as Fly POP airlines which is committed to providing 51% profits to their charity partners.  POP will begin regular scheduled flights this autumn with very limited service.  The airline will start with 2 non-stop long haul flights on state-of-the-art Airbus A330-300s.    The new low-cost flights that are offered will be from London Stansted to Ahmedabad, India or Amritsar, India.

 

There is an opportunity to support the airline in their initial crowdfunding which will provide you with a Gold Pass for the next 5 years.  The first 7,000 participants will have the option to be included to have their “name-on-a-plane” with the other distinguished roll of honor.    WOW!  That is a once in a lifetime offer and for one girl who travels that is a very tempting offer!

Seek your adventure!

 

 

 

Momondo.com saves you big $$$

Sunset dance in Palau
Amazing sunset in Palau

This past weekend I was able to put my travel knowledge into action to save hundreds of dollars!  My neighbor was in a dilemma for booking flights on an upcoming international business trip.  While his employer has no required airline carrier,  he has a personal preference and wanted to surprise his wife with a ticket to join him.  The flight prices were on a steady increase, ideal flight times were quickly diminishing and his preferred airline seemed impossible.

Here I come to save the day with my travel acumen and of course I am wearing a cape!

I encouraged him to try utilizing the travel search engine called momondo.com.  Well within 2 hours he stopped by to tell me he booked the flights on his preferred carrier, with excellent departure times, and it was over $400 cheaper than he had seen anywhere else.

Momondo.com found the perfect flight and I enjoyed the victory lap as a dinner guest at the neighbor’s home.

Seek your adventure!

How to avoid Montezuma’s revenge & travel gear antidote

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Iguana Falls: Argentina side

I am so excited to share with you my latest travel gear purchase because I have never seen anything like this before!  As you can imagine my travel gear collection is quite extensive which has a dedicated closet in my home.   I have extremely stringent criteria for any new travel gear to ensure it will stand the test of time.

Without further ado let me introduce you to….my new travel gear item is The Grayl water filter.  You may recall from previously posts that I am a strong advocate for always carrying a packable water bottle so that you can get drinking water anywhere and most importantly save your money for margaritas.  Well that solution does not work in all countries especially where the tap water is not safe to drink.  In most instances the locals are immune to the many issues associated to the water and it only affects us delicate travelers. You may be familar with a few terms “Montezuma’s revenge” or “Delhi belly” for common illness that many travelers endured from drinking water or food washed in the local tap water.

 

Alas, the Grayl water filter eliminates 99.9999% disease-causing bacteria, virus protection and protozoan cysts in addition it has been tested according to NSF/ANSI standards 42 + 53.

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Iguazu Falls: Brazil side

The water filter is extremely easy and quick to utilize transforming stream or tap water into pure drinking water in mere seconds.  This avoids the countless trips to the local corner store then carrying heavy bottles of water back to the hotel.  In addition you no longer have to continual monitor your remaining water supply.  There have been numerous times I was ready to collapse into bed after a long day of travel only to realize that I don’t have any water left.  Ugh another journey out to search for water!   While the Grayl device is a little expensive I anticipate that after 3-4 trips it will have paid for itself and the luxury of convenience is worth every penny.

Seek your adventure!